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Department of Social Work receives candidacy status, admits first advanced standing MSW students

June 25, 2009 -- Arkansas State University’s Department of Social Work, in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, welcomed its first 26 advanced standing students into the Master of Social Work (MSW) program, Tuesday, June 2. In addition, the MSW program has been placed in candidacy for accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). 

Regarding the accreditation of the program, there are three steps in the CSWE accreditation process: pre-candidacy, candidacy, and initial accreditation.  The initial accreditation process requires that certain documentation is prepared and provided to CSWE and that two site visits are arranged for a CSWE commissioner to review the program’s eligibility for accreditation. 

Pre-candidacy involves discussion of a new program by the host institution, as well as initial planning, acquisition of resources, and the hiring of the required number of faculty. 

The first step toward initial accreditation is candidacy.  In order to be placed in candidacy, a program has to provide a self-study document containing specific standards, and a CSWE site visitor meets with the university administration and social work department to review the program’s standards.  The second site visitor is sent after the program is in candidacy and reviews another set of standards to determine whether or not the program meets the requirements for initial accreditation status.

The commissioner who visits the university makes a recommendation to CSWE regarding readiness for candidacy.  A site visitor spent time at Arkansas State last November and recommended that the MSW Program be placed in candidacy.  Recently, the commissioners met and officially placed the program in candidacy status. 

 “We anticipate that initial accreditation will be granted to the ASU MSW program sometime during 2010,” said Dr. Turnage.

The MSW program consists of two tracks: regular standing and advanced standing. In fall 2008, the program admitted its first group of regular standing part-time students. Students admitted to the part-time advanced standing program have bachelor’s degrees in social work. The advanced standing students attended an orientation session for the program and attended their first class of the summer 2009 term. 

The new MSW Program offers students a concentration in rural-based clinical practice.  During the summer, students study psychosocial pathology for social workers. 

Dr. Barbara Turnage, chair, addressed the students, “You have begun a challenging journey that will greatly enhance your career.”  Turnage noted that the advanced standing students are required to complete 33 credits to obtain the MSW degree.

“The start of the MSW program is the end of many years of advocacy by northeast Arkansas social service agencies and students for a master’s degree in social work offered by Arkansas State University,” said Dr. George Jacinto, director of the MSW program. “This year the program has admitted a part-time class.  In summer of 2010, both part-time and full-time advanced standing study options will be available to interested students.” 

Dr. Jacinto noted that in the fall semester of 2009, regular standing students can enroll in the MSW program in both full-time and part-time tracks.  Regular standing students must complete 63 credits to obtain the Master of Social Work degree.  He also noted the reason that regular standing students have to complete more credits is that the advanced standing students, those with Bachelor of Social Work degrees, have completed the 30 credits of foundation courses as part of their BSW training.

The program plans to graduate its first students in May of 2011.



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